Mastering APA style #2: In-text Citations

With referencing, in-text citations are pretty much literal as it gets.  In-text citations are written "within text" and are used to "cite" sources.  However, always remember, you have to include all the references you cited (in the in-text citations) in the reference list at the back of your paper!

But firstly how do you do the in-text citations?
The most basic one of all is (name, year), with the names for in-text citations being the author's last names or surnames of the authors.  However it get complicated depending on the number of authors and how you use the in-text citations.

Image credit: http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm
The table above shows the different combinations that you might have for your citations.  I will explain in the following steps of help you how to understand and use this table to write your own citations.

Step 1: Identity the "type of citation" you have.
From your original article, you have find out how many authors wrote that article.  If you have the reference, it is quite straightforward.  However if you are looking at the article, you need to locate the list of authors (usually on the first page of the article) and their order.
You only need to know (a) how many authors wrote that article, and (b) the year it was published.

An easy way to break down this above table is to group the rows of  "one" and "two"authors as one group, "three" to "five" authors as another group, and "six" authors as another one.  For "groups" as mentioned above, they are usually institutions or organisations, hence the names of the institutions or organisations can just be used directly as per the logic for citing "one" author .

Step 2: First and Subsequent citations
Please refer to the second column ("First citation in text") and fourth column ("Parenthetical format, first citation in text") in the table for the in-text citations being used for the very first time.
After that, there will be some differences as shown in the third and fifth column for subsequent  in-text citations.

Continuing from Step 1: [compare the second and third columns (or fourth and fifth column) as you read the following] 
(a)  For "one" and "two authors":  There is no difference between the first citation and subsequent citations. Just write out all the authors' name for the first time and subsequent times.
(b)  For "three to five authors":  Write out all the authors' name for the first time.  For subsequent times when the authors are cited, make sure to only keep the first author's name and substitute the other authors' name with "et al.".  You do not need an "and" (e.g. "Bradley and et al.") between them; there is a space between "et" and "al."; and there is a period (or full-stop) after "al".
(c)  For "six (or more) authors":  You may just use "et al." (e.g. "Bradley et al.") for both the first and subsequent citations.

Step 3:  Knowing how in-text citations are written.
There are mainly two methods of writing of in-text citations: (a) the authors' name as part of or within the sentence, or (b) the authors' names in the parentheses [referring to "(  )"].
Example:
A common definition some researchers use is one developed by Jones, Hanton, and Connaughton (2002), which is .....  This definition is also under some debate (Andersen, 2011).  
In the first sentence, the authors' names are involved within the sentence, hence the parentheses only included the year.  However, in the second sentence, it did not involved the author but only made reference to it, hence the author's last name and year are both in parentheses.  It is really up to your writing style and sentence construction of when you wish to involve the author's or authors' names within the sentences.
This is the main difference between the second  and the fourth columnsas well as the third and fifth columns.  Do note the placement of the "&" and "and".  If the authors' name are (a) within the text, you should use "and" between their names;  if the authors' name are (b) in the parentheses, make sure to use "&" between the authors' names.  Many students do make this (very common) mistake!

In-text citations are actually the easiest to master in APA style, and once you understand and know how to use the above table, it is actually very easy!!

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